Designing anti-stalking legislation on the basis of victims experiences and psychopathology
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Wording differs substantially between the various legislation with regard to what behaviours constitute stalking. Some legislation comprehensively describes which behaviours are punishable, whilst other legislation uses only broad terms. Differences also exist with regard to the number of occasions and the intent of the perpetrator necessary to constitute stalking. Moreover, legislative provisions usually require the victim to experience negative effects of the offender's behaviour, or require that a reasonable person would be likely to experience such negative effects in the same situation. This article discusses whether these legislative components for the definition of stalking are problematic or not. Past studies and a study among 234 victims in The Netherlands are discussed to illustrate difficulties in legislative provisions dealing with stalking. It is argued that legislation should refrain from descriptions of specific behaviours and negative effects for victims in the definition of what constitutes stalking and that it is advisable for provisions to adhere to a “reasonable-person-test”.